Gas prices are going to go up this spring. This should come as a shock to no one. They go up every spring, usually just in time for the vacation season so that the oil conglomerates can squeeze the most out of all or our vacation dollars. But this is an election year. So will the higher prices effect the 2012 election? That depends.
The first, and probably most important, factor determining the effect these price increases will have on the election is the cumulative memory of the people. My observation is that there are people who are surprised every year when the price of gas goes up. These people can’t seem to put it together from one year to the next that this is an annual occurrence. Even if we point it out to them that this happens every year, they will still insist on blaming the Democrats – even in years that the Democrats aren’t in power. These are the staunchest of Republican voters and their perceptions will not change their votes.
Then there is the other extreme, people who have a long and accurate memory and rightfully place the blame for the higher prices on the oil companies. These people will not change their vote based on the price of gasoline because they realize that the carbon cartels are bigger than the government of any country and governments have, at best, very limited control of oil prices.
The difference will be those people in the middle. Whether they see oil prices as a function of governmental action will depend on who they believe.
The Republican Party will, of course, try to blame the Obama administration. They’ll use tactics like blaming the rise on the failure of the Keystone XL Pipeline, even though that project couldn’t possibly affect anything until 2015, even if it started today. They’ll say things like “Obama has no coherent energy policy” and “look at Solyndra” and try to connect the Democratic Party with “enviro-Nazis” who want to end all our dependence on oil (a goal we should all be looking toward). They’ll also have the power of the conservative media behind them to try to back all this up. I’m going to predict they’ll fail.
Perhaps I have too much faith in the independent voter. I think the change of 50 cents a gallon will not change the way any appreciable number of people will vote. Assuming a continuation of the improvement in the economy, anything in the financial realm would be a losing issue for the GOP. Despite the increasingly unpopular nature of their social platforms, this is the best shot they have at beating the current administration. Too many people still remember that the shrubbery is the president that put us in the current financial hole and that things have been getting better, albeit slowly, under Obama.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons